Hugo Barra: where are the Android tablets of HTC One-like quality?

by: Bogdan PetrovanJuly 29, 2013

Nexus 7

The situation of Android tablets is improving fast, but there’s still a lot of work to be done for Google and its hardware partners. That’s the gist of a conversation that folks at The Verge had with Hugo Barra, the VP of Product Management for Android.

When talking about the problems that beset the Google-powered tablets (70 million have been activated at the last official count), Barra acknowledged that the situation with apps is still not perfect, though it improved dramatically in the last year or so:

[quote qtext=”The absolute position that we’re in is one where well over 60 percent of the apps that you’d expect in a given category are already available with a decent tablet UI” qperson=”” qsource=”” qposition=”center”]

Over the past year or so, Google launched several initiatives to encourage developers to create tablet-optimized applications including a dedicated section for tablet apps in the Play Store and design guidelines for creating good Android tablet apps.

Another major area where the Android camp needs to step up its game is hardware, design, and build quality. Hugo Barra wants to see an Android tablet that is as “pristine” as HTC’s much lauded One smartphone:

[quote qtext=”If you look at the execution that HTC did on the One smartphone, it’s pristine, {…} Why hasn’t someone done that on the tablet? Or on like ten tablets?” qperson=”” qsource=”” qposition=”center”]

The Android director goes on to offer one possible reason behind the dearth of HTC One-quality Android tablets – price. When designing the Nexus 7, Google and Asus were limited by the need to keep its price around $200. Barra argues that manufacturers could offer a pristine Android tablet in the $300-$400 price range:

[quote qtext=”I think we are perhaps coming close to it, but this is a $200 device, {…} If you were to price it at $300 or $400 you could do something a little bit more in that territory in terms of polish and finish and materials and so on. Why hasn’t that happened yet?” qperson=”” qsource=”” qposition=”center”]

The Google executive even seems to allude that such a high-quality Android tablet in the $300-$400 price range will be coming in the future, and that, while the Android ecosystem has been “lagging behind a little bit”, the situation is improving. It’s hard to tell if Hugo Barra was referring to the new Nexus 10 that Android chief Sundar Pichai recently talked about, or a totally new product.

The perspective of a Nexus 7-like user experience in a more polished (and more expensive) package is surely intriguing. On the other hand, lest we forget that the low price allowed the original Nexus 7 and many other Android tablets to steal market share from the iPad.

Would you buy a “high-end Nexus 7” for, say, $350?

See Also: Best 10 Inch Android Tablets

  • satsmine2k4

    Would you buy a “high-end Nexus 7” for, say, $350?


  • Zombie

    Yes, I would buy a “premium” Nexus 7. But Google needs to work on a better interface for tablets, and start going with feet of lead to developers. Twitter should not be allowed to keep its app with a phone interface even on tablets.

  • CRiTiCaL_FLuX

    Yes, but only if it’s a Nexus. I’m tired of waiting for manufacturers to push out updates that may not even happen and bogging down the OS with all their useless “features.” Bought a Nexus 4 and between stock Android and all the custom ROMs, I’m extremely satisfied. Will never buy a non-Nexus device again.

    • Oli72

      totally agree. i have a nexus 4 and never going back to non nexus phones.

      • cretinick

        I’m in the Nexus 4 too. I would never say never… But If things stay as they are today, I probably will stay at Nexus devices.

        As Sony has said recently, the update cicle has changed. Thanks to changes in Google releases of the source code, the manufactores can start to work on the new updates sooner. Let’s see how things will work this time.

        And there is the Moto X, that have an UI even closer to the Stock Android, than in the Razr line (Seems like due to the leaked press release images…). And I believe that Motorola, as a Google company, have the urge and the moral obligation of release the updates even faster.

  • Doug Dunfee

    I’d buy a high end Nexus 8 for $400 if it had everything the Nexus 7 has plus…

    1. Premium build
    2. Slightly bigger screen and/or slightly wider (thing Pixel 3:2)
    3. 18 hour battery
    4. Great dock and accessories ready at launch
    6. Video out that doesn’t require a $30 adapter or power
    7. Flash for the camera on back / flashlight.
    8. Headphone jack on bottom next to microUSB.
    9. An easily marketed name and a brand push to steal REAL mindshare.

    • MasterMuffin

      Do you really take photos with your tablet?? And also why would you want an aspect ratio of 3:2????

      • Doug Dunfee

        On occasion I have taken photos with a tablet yes. I don’t care what the techblogsnobbery thinks about it. The best camera is the one you have at the time, and I’m not going to risk losing a shot or dropping my device so I can get out my phone if I don’t have to. For as cheap as decent smarphone camera sensor are, a premium tablet better be able to take photos at least as good as my 3 year old Droid Incredible (which takes pretty damn good shots still).

        3:2: because it it reduces the jarring switch from landscape to portrait and is only a tiny bit wider than 16:10 anyway. Plus, with on screen nav buttons and a notification bar it really cramps the screen in landscape at times. I’m not asking for 4:3 because I just think it’s too far, but I think 3:2 offers some nice symmetry, etc for grids and things. Also, Linus likes it :)

        • MasterMuffin

          Snob? :'(

          Also, the 3:2 may be good, but that device would be almost a square (and yes, 4:3 would be too far!)

          • Doug Dunfee

            I meant the numerous reviewers complaining about people using tablets to take pictures, not you really. These are the same people who frequently thing Google Glass is going to be great and mocked the term iPad when it was first announced. :)

            3:2 is only marginally wider than 16:10 and still pretty far from near 4:3.

          • MasterMuffin

            Okay good :)

            In those small pictures the difference isn’t so big, but think about your smartphone if it had 3:2 ratio. Would be really uncomfortable! I guess that it wouldn’t actually be so bad on a tablet (maybe would feel weird when you first got it but you’d get used to it)

        • john

          Yeah, a decent camera on a tablet is nice, but I mean it is all about the intended function isn’t it?
          For an example, a tablet is awesome at video chatting, but not so great to lug around and take photos on the streets. People like me would much appreciate better front cam-2.0mp is enough for most videos, since it’s bottlenecked by the bandwidth- and a decent 8~13 mp cam on the front.

          Aspect ratio is the same. 10 inch tablets are much geared to watching videos, and seeing how dominant wide screen aspect became in theaters, 16:9 and 16:10 will be the norm.

          For 7 inch tablets, I think it’s more geared towards notes, ebooks, etc. And since many people agree it’s far more comfortable reading on 4:3 or 3:2, that will be the norm.
          On the side note, isn’t 8.9 inch 3:2 territory?

          Otherwise, solid pointers for making a great tablet.

      • carlisimo

        I take photos of documents with mine – basically as a scanner of sorts.

    • DefaultUser


      Why is that so hard to understand/accept? If you want expandable storage, Samsung has about twenty different sizes for you.

  • Gucci

    HTC Should make the “One” tablet

  • Luka Mlinar

    Someone did do that Hugo. It’s called the Xperia Tablet Z.

    • swing

      he didn’t mention that probably because Sony partnership with google is not as close as other partner like Samsung, HTC, LG, or Asus.

      strange isn’t it ? :D

      • Luka Mlinar

        I think he just forgot to use his mind that day.

      • DefaultUser

        Seems he was mostly talking about 7″ tablets, which are more popular than 10″ tablets. Hence the 300-400 price range, which the Xperia Tablet Z definitely is not in.

    • Rick Stones

      I went and looked at the Xperia and was starting to be impressed until I accidentally watched the video commercial they have posted on Amazon with the GQ dude and his world of “Friends” with an Android tab…
      The whole time I was thinking, “MY WORD. PLEASE DON’T SHOW THIS GOOFY CLOWN SITTING IN A BATHTUB READING HIS SONY….. ” Guess What!?!?!?!”
      After seeing that, I’d *NEVER* be able to own one of these things… I’m waiting for the HTC One 7″ to match my rock’n phone.

  • cretinick

    What about a Moto X Tablet?

  • Arun01

    I’m fine with my galaxy note 10.1 :D

  • adora

    please enlighten him with Xperia tablet Z!

  • john

    *Grabs htc One on both edges*

  • Sam

    Lets say it loud – he wants an iPad mini level tablet.

  • Ryan Castle

    I would not buy a “high end” Nexus 7 simply because I do not like 7 inch tablets. Now if the Nexus 10 touted that “high end, high quality” Barra is talking about, I would definitely buy it.